Hong Kong take Division Three title
Mark Chapman's half-century powered Hong Kong to a four-wicket win over Papua New Guinea in the final of the ICC World Cricket League Division Three, at the Kowloon Cricket Club. The 16-year-old Chapman's unbeaten 70 anchored Hong Kong's chase after their bowlers, led by Najeeb Amar, restricted PNG to 202 for 9.
PNG chose to bat and got off to a steady start with their openers Tony Ura and Jack Vare putting on 77 runs in just under 21 overs. Amar picked up the first of his three wickets when he dismissed Ura for 51. Asad Vala was run out in the next over but Vare and Chris Amini batted solidly for a half-century stand to take PNG to 133 for 2. Aizaz Khan picked up Vare for 48 and the dismissal, in the 37th over, triggered a collapse. Nizakat Khan dismissed Kila Pala and Christopher Kent in the 38th over, and the slide continued as PNG lost seven wickets for 69 runs. Amini fell on the penultimate ball of the innings as PNG just managed to nudge past 200.
PNG needed a strong reply from their bowlers if they were to have any chances of defending their total. Hitolo Areni provided the first breakthrough when he had Courtney Kruger lbw in the sixth over. Roy Lamsam and Hussain Butt, who made a half-century when Hong King beat PNG in their final league game, batted solidly but Rarva Dikana struck to dismiss both of them in quick succession as Hong King looked in trouble at 60 for 3. However, Chapman played a determined knock, stringing together useful partnerships with Irfan Ahmed, Nizakat and Waqas Barkat, to wrest the advantage in Hong King's favour. Najeeb hit some big shots as his unbeaten 37-run partnership with Chapman carried Hong Kong home. Chapman was declared the Man of the Match.
"Today I feel like I'm flying, like I am sat on the moon," said a delighted Najeeb Amar. "I am so happy that we've won the tournament. I was delighted to score the winning the runs with Mark Chapman in front of our home crowd. Credit must not just go to the team but also our coach, Charlie Burke. He's unbelievable, he made my job easier, he gave us a simple task: don't panic and the results will come, which they did this week.
"Our team is full of surprises and talented guys, especially Mark Chapman among many others, they can prove themselves against any team and hopefully when we get to Dubai we can do the same. The teams in Division Two will be a tough task, but the way we perform and play and we can make it any level and we're confident."
"It's an amazing feeling to win in front of my family and home crowd and then take home the man of the match medal too," added Chapman. "I worked hard today to grind out the runs since I've not had a great run this tournament. I don't know much about Dubai and the sides we'll face, but I'm sure we'll be ready."
PNG head coach, Andy Bichel, was obviously disappointed about not taking home the trophy but drew positives from the tournament and the side's promotion to Division Two. "It's disappointing to lose in the final, but the plan was to win promotion to Division Two which we have done," he said. "We're a young squad and hopefully this experience will inspire them to play better in Dubai.
"We haven't looked forward to Division Two yet, but it's about being prepared to play at that one level up. Its about having plans for batsmen who will be of a higher standard, being in different conditions with different pitches. The higher standard you go, the better the wickets will get, the better the teams are and it will be a real test for us - we've got the players to do well, its now about preparing for the event."
An unbeaten century by Adnan Ilyas led Oman to third place, as they beat Italy by eight wickets at the Hong Kong Cricket Club. Ilyas scored 120 off 105 balls, and put together a 198-run partnership with Vaibhav Wategaonkar, who scored 87 not out, as Oman chased down Italy's 251 in just 41 overs. Italy had reached their score on the back of a quick 78 by wicketkeeper Hayden Patrizi and a measured 81 by captain Alessandro Bonora. The two put together 99 runs for the fifth wicket. Italy ended their innings on a high after smashing 51 runs off the last four overs, but the score proved to be an easy target for Oman.
"It's fantastic to win Player of the Tournament, but is somewhat bittersweet as we've not managed to win promotion this week," said Peter Petricola. "I wasn't able to play today as I've been suffering some soreness after bowling for the first time in a while for the side, but claiming those 11 wickets and scoring those runs for Italy has been worth it to see us stay in Division Three.
"I think this week has shown we have the ability to challenge the sides in Division Three and if things had gone our way we could've have made it up a division, but I'm happy we've maintained our position."
USA finished last after Denmark thumped them by 84 runs at the Mission Road Ground. Denmark's wicketkeeper Freddie Klokker set up the win with an unbeaten century that took his side to 240, seamer Basit Raja then ran through USA's top order, and some tight fielding from Denmark sealed the win. Three USA batsmen were run out as they crashed to 156 all out in 43 overs. Raja took 3 for 25 and his opening spell helped reduce USA to 48 for 4. They never recovered and were soon 105 for 9. Durale Forrest and Muhammad Ghous added 51 for the last wicket but it was little consolation for USA. They and Denmark will both be relegated to Division 4.
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town